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AN OVERVIEW OF NIGERIAN

ARCHAEOLOGY.

A Presentation by Zacharys Anger


Gundu.PhD.
Fulbright Fellow
Department of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin.
October 25th , 2007
Africa.
Language Families of Africa.
Nigeria at a glance.

 140,003,542 people.
 1 in every 4 Africans is a Nigerian.
 More natural resources than any country
in Africa.
 Oil main stay of the economy(13th largest
producer of petroleum in the world and 10th
largest proven reserves of oil in the world).
NIGERIA AT A GLANCE (Cont)
 8th
largest exporter of oil in the world.
 Diversity:
 250 ethnic groups.
 521 languages.
 510 living.
 9 extinct.

 2 without native speakers.

 Has the world’s largest diversity of butterflies.


Nigeria.
Nigeria.
Nigeria.
State of our archaeological
knowledge
 Scattered Oldowan and Acheulian finds mostly from
river terraces/mining activities.
 Undisputed Acheulian sequence at Ugwuelle Uturu
(Eastern Nigeria).
 Middle Stone Age represented in sites on the Jos
Plateau.
 Earliest fossil remains of man from Iwo- Eleru(near
Akure) dated to 9,000 bc.
State of our archaeological knowledge
(Cont)
 Other LSA sites include: Rop, Daima, Tse Dura
and Nok.
 Evidence of domestication in West Africa as
early as 3000-1000 BC.
 In Nigeria, earliest evidence of domestication
from Daima (Lake Chad area)
 Plant domesticates include: Millet, sorghum, date
palm, African rice, shea butter tree and the oil
palm.
State of our archaeological knowledge
(Cont)
 Animal domesticates include: Cattle,
Sheep, goats and guinea fowl.
 Archaeological evidence of domestication
reinforced by linguistic evidence and rock
art.
 Transition from Neolithic to Iron Age
without intermediate bronze production.
State of our archaeological knowledge
(Cont)
 Until recently, Nok (Taruga) had the
earliest evidence of iron working in Nigeria
and sub-Saharan Africa. (500 BC-200AD)
 Earliest evidence of working iron in Nigeria
comes from Opi (Nsukka area) 765 BC.
 Scattered iron working in different parts
like Zaria, Kano and Benue valley.
 Nok has one of the the earliest evidence
of plastic sculptures (figurines) in sub
Saharan Africa.
SOME NOK FIGURINES
SOME NOK FIGURINES
SOME NOK FIGURINES
SOME NOK FIGURINES
Urbanization and Centralized States.
 By 1000 AD, there is evidence of urban
centres and complex societies in Nigeria.
 At Igbo Ukwu (9th C AD), we have the
earliest examples of bronze casting in
Nigeria.
 Both Ife Benin and Owo art post date Igbo
Ukwu.
 Possible relationships have been argued
especially between Nok art and Ife and
Benin art.
Igbo Ukwu Bronze Object.
Another Igbo Ukwu Bronze Object.
Another Igbo Ukwu Bronze Object.
Ife Art
Another Ife Piece.
Benin Art
Another Benin Piece
Another Benin Piece.
Other art forms of archaeological
significance in Nigeria.
 Esie soap stones (Middle Nigeria). About
800 figures of men and women. Sitting or
kneeling. Show hair styles, people with
machetes, bracelets and necklaces.
14cm-1 meter high.
 Largest collection of stone sculptures in
Africa.
 A house of images built in 1945 to protect
them.
An Esie Soap Stone Piece.
Other art forms of archaeological
significance in Nigeria (Cont).
 The Akwanshi of Cross River State.
 These are scattered basalt and volcanic
stone sculptures in the forests of Cross River
State.
 They are in circles and number over 400
individual pieces.
 They weigh between 50kg-800kg.
 They measure between 30cm -2 meters
high.
An Akwanshi Piece.
Another Akwanshi piece.
On going archaeological projects in
Nigeria.
 The Old Oyo Project: University of Ibadan.
 The Benue Valley Project: University of
Ibadan.
 The Mandara Project: Nicholas David
(Calgary).
 North Eastern Nigeria Archaeological
Project: Peter Breunig (Germany).
 The Nok Project: Germany.
Africa’s Oldest Boat (8,000 yrs old)
Dafuna Canoe.
Challenges of Archaeology in Nigeria.

 Archaeological awareness is relatively low.


 Education and training challenges.
 Funding.
 Ethics and legal framework.
 Chronology and geographic boundaries.
 The multi disciplinary approach.
 Explanation.
Conclusion.
 Though much is yet to be done here, the little
that is known indicates human development
in the Nigerian area going back to the old
stone age.
 Holds part of the key to understanding other
regional issues like the Bantu expansion.
 The discovery of Sahelanthropus tchadensis
in neighboring Chad could also mean that
hominids walked the Nigerian area.
Conclusion (Cont).
 Archaeology must also be prepared to work with
other disciplines in the study of the Nigerian
field.
 Archaeologists must also recognize that
archaeology is just one of many other ways of
knowing about the past.

 Training and education of archaeologists should


be predicated on a more responsive curriculum.
 THANK YOU